Gov. Jack Dalrymple today, in a meeting with Tesoro Logistics Senior Vice President of Operations Dan Romasko pressed for answers regarding a recent oil pipeline spill in a western North Dakota wheat field and for assurances that the company will take every precaution before resuming operations.
Dalrymple told Romasko that Tesoro should go above and beyond federal requirements by installing "real-time" pipeline monitoring equipment and that the state will closely oversee the company's work to fully reclaim the private farmland impacted by the spill.
"We expect high standards from North Dakota's energy industry and I expect timely responses from Tesoro Logistics to the many unanswered questions that remain in order to prevent this from ever happening again," Dalrymple said.
Dalrymple met with Romasko today in the governor's office. During the hour-long meeting, Dalrymple said Tesoro must answer questions about the company's notification and response to the spill; Tesoro's process and the timeframe in determining the extent of the spill; the company's communication plan during and since the spill; the company's future plans for the pipeline's maintenance, monitoring and operations of the pipeline before and after the spill; and Tesoro's plan to reclaim land contaminated by the oil spill.
Tesoro pledged, as an initial step, to improve its communications to the public through a website that will be up tomorrow.
The pipeline, which transfers oil north from the Tioga area to a rail loading facility near the Canadian border, is under the regulatory authority of the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).
Romasko told Dalrymple that Tesoro Logistics was in the process of implementing continuous flow and pressure monitoring equipment and automated shut-down technology along the pipeline, but PHMSA does not require the technology be used on that segment of the pipeline.
Dalrymple said the state should work with PHMSA or consider implementing its own regulations to enhance the monitoring of pipeline systems in North Dakota.
Tesoro reported that they shut down the pipeline and notified federal and state officials immediately after they learned late on Sept. 29 that the pipeline was leaking. Tesoro's notification immediately set in motion a coordinated emergency notification and response that continues today. Local officials were quickly alerted of the spill and the North Dakota Department of Health mobilized a response team that had field staff at the Mountrail County spill site within hours.
The following morning, on Sept. 30, Tesoro reported that an estimated 750 barrels of oil had leaked from the underground pipeline leak. On Oct. 8, after a week of completing soil borings and other site analysis, Tesoro increased its estimated spill volume to 20,600 barrels.
The state's immediate response included an evaluation of the spill's potential risks to public safety and to surface or ground water supplies. Tesoro's report indicated that the spill did not pose any imminent danger to public safety or threaten water supplies. The Health Department's preliminary assessment also found no threat to public health or water supplies.
Gov. Dalrymple also spoke with Steve Jensen, the farmer whose land is impacted by the spill, about the recovery and remediation. Jensen said he is satisfied with the State Health Department response efforts. Calls from the Governor's Office to the PHMSA have not been returned.